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Smart Tips for Setting Goals

Ask The Expert

By Barbara Mitchell

Q: My manager asked me to come up with some goals for 2016. Where do I start?

A: You’re fortunate to work for a manager who involves you in the process—sometimes managers set goals for their employees, and that can be less motivating.

Hopefully, your manager shared your department’s goals with you and how they fit into the overall goals of your association. That information should help you come up with a couple of personal objectives that can help you make an impact.

As you develop your goals, remember that they should be supplementary to the responsibilities outlined in your job description. For example, if one of your job responsibilities is to answer phone and email requests from members, your goal can’t be “Take requests from members.” Your goals should also stretch your abilities and add to your skill set.

You probably have heard of the SMART goal-setting process. It’s  been around for a long time, and it still works. SMART goals are:

  • Specific. What will you accomplish? Is the goal concise and descriptive?
  • Measurable. How will success be measured? Are there metrics you can apply?
  • Achievable. Is the goal realistic?
  • Relevant. Does the goal move the organization forward?
  • Time bound. When does the goal need to be accomplished? Are there milestones to be reached?

You should aim for setting about four to five goals—more than that can be overwhelming. One of your goals should be personal or developmental, such as “Complete degree by December 31, 2016” or “Take a presentation class by June 30, 2016.” These can be things that will increase your value to the organization.

As you develop your goals, remember that they should be supplementary to the responsibilities outlined in your job description.

If your organization doesn’t set goals from the top down, it’s a bit more difficult to set your own, but it can be done. Look at the big picture as you know it, and consider the challenges your organization and your department face. Try to come up with goals that will be useful in helping achieve those overarching objectives.

Once you draft your goals, your manager should sit down with you to review them and may add to your list. If you’ve completed the SMART process and considered your association’s wider aims, you’re on the right track to setting effective goals that will benefit you and your organization.

Barbara Mitchell is a human resources and management consultant and author of The Big Book of HR. Do you have a question you’d like her to answer in “Ask the Expert”? Send it to [email protected].

Career Development